Monday, 12 October 2015

The Intern (4 Stars)


Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) worked for 40 years in a company that printed phone books, for many years as a chief executive. At 65 he retired, shortly after the death of his wife. He is trying to remain active, keeping a regular daily schedule, getting up at the same time every day and doing Tai Chi in the park, but he feels something is missing. He needs a purpose in his life.

He replies to an advertisement for an internship at an e-commerce company, About A Fit, that sells clothing online. He's assigned as the personal assistant to the company's owner/founder, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). The film's humour comes from the contrast between the two characters. Jules is a highly focused executive who has neglected her family to build a company up from nothing to 220 employees in 18 months. Her unorthodox leadership methods (which seem to be a parody of other successful company founders like Steve Jobs) clash with Ben's efficient common-sense style. Ben's lack of knowledge of the Internet age is presented humorously, especially in the opening sequences, contrasted with his younger colleagues' lack of knowledge of the pre-Internet age. For instance, Ben has to explain why people needed phone books. "Can't you just use Google?" It's a clash of two worlds.

The film has a very simple story, which has been criticised by other reviewers, but I consider that to be the film's strength. The film is character driven. It would have failed with lesser actors than Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. They're so charming, both individually and in their interaction with one another, that we can't help but take them into our hearts. The same can be said of the minor characters, such as the other interns and Jules' secretary. The masterful directing by Nancy Meyers introduces the characters to us one by one, giving us enough details to know who they are, so that none of them are blanks. The only person I dislike in the film is Jules' husband Matt, who comes across as a creepy, over-polite character from the first time he appears on screen. Jules could do better than that!

The film has a multitude of sub-plots going on, which I won't describe in detail here. Spoilers! I'm not sure whether that's an advantage or a disadvantage. On the one hand they distract from the main story, but it's these very sub-plots that describe the minor characters to us. Ben's romance with the company's massage therapist seems unnecessary, but I understand why it was added. Without this romance the viewer might have suspected a romantic attachment between Ben and Jules, which the director wanted to avoid at all costs.

This is a charming feel-good movie. It's not a chick flick, it's a film for everyone. It's definitely a film that I want to watch again and ponder in more detail.

5 comments:

  1. I agree. Strong performances from De Niro and Hathaway which pull you into the film. And a definite must see for the age bracket that straddles both their worlds.

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    1. I see what you mean. I too am old enough to remember Ben Whittaker's world, but young enough to have embraced Jules' world. I remember using phone books, but I'm glad I don't need them any more.

      However, it isn't just a matter of age, it's a matter of how willing you are to go with the times. To take just one example, Stan Lee is 92 years old, but he's active in social media. On the other hand, my ex-wife, who is younger than me, is technophobic. She's never owned her own computer and probably never will.

      Thanks for commenting on my post, Scooby. I hope to hear from you again. As a blogger, nothing encourages me more than to hear from my readers, even when they tell me they totally disagree with my opinion on a film. It tells me that people are reading and thinking about my posts. I have thousands of "hits" every month, but I'm not naive, I know that at least half of them are from people searching for free downloads, and when they see there aren't any links on my pages they leave immediately.

      My reviews are a mixture of old and new films. I go to the cinema twice a week, and I watch older films (Blu-ray/DVD/Netflix) every day. Something for everyone. Hopefully there's enough to keep you coming back, to read my new reviews as well as browsing my older reviews.

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  2. I enjoyed this film a lot and would award it 4 stars. It did over-egg some serious moments, and hathaway had more of these to deal with than De Niro. I expected a solid two hours from Nancy Meters and I got it. Decent crowd in to see a comedy always a bonus.

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    1. Yes, you were sitting next to me and I heard you saying "That's very meta" at two points. I know what you meant. The audience isn't dumb, we can understand the points being made without the characters having to explain it to us. On the other hand, you and I are both bloggers, so we aren't typical audience members.

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  3. I did rabbit on a bit.. Maybe the whole meaningless internship thing resonated a bit too much with my own past :)

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